The Liberal Party has denied it is involved in a tobacco company-funded anti-Labor advertising blitz, saying it would also consider implementing plain packaging.
Howard government advisers and Liberal Party strategists reportedly have helped devise the $5 million ad campaign by a group of allied retailers.
The Alliance of Australian Retailers, funded mainly by British American Tobacco and Philip Morris, wants to stop proposed laws for plain packaging of tobacco.
Quit slams the campaign
Anti-smoking group Quit has slammed an advertising campaign which will soon call for cigarettes to remain in clearly branded packets.
The federal government earlier this year announced that it wanted cigarettes to be sold in plain packaging, without brand logos, images and colours, from 2012.
However, the Alliance of Australian Retailers – a group bankrolled by three tobacco companies – don’t want that to happen.
They’re about to launch an advertising blitz against the measure, arguing it will put a strain on small shopkeepers.
Quit executive director Fiona Sharkie said the campaign was actually about protecting the interests of big tobacco.
“This campaign is purely about an industry terrified of declining profits and one that will do anything to save its bottom line,” she said on Wednesday.
“We should be asking what this newly formed ‘alliance’ is getting from the tobacco industry to come out against plain packaging.”
Ms Sharkie said plain packaging wasn’t going to stamp out smoking overnight.
“Retailers will have time to adjust to the gradual change in demand,” she said.
“Instead of doing favours for the tobacco industry, retail associations should be helping their members diversify their business to cope with this inevitable change.”
Ms Sharkie supported Labor’s move towards plain packaging, saying research showed it made cigarettes less appealing to teenagers.
Visit the National anti-Tobacco campaign website